NEW JERSEY DRUG PROSECUTOR DEFENDS DRUG WAR
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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #284 Tue, 20 Jan 2004
On Wednesday, Jan 14, one of the few strident defenders of the drug war - Orange County, NJ's Terrence Farley - got loose with a lengthy diatribe criticizing former Superior Court Judge Martin Haines' criticism of the failed war on some drugs.
It's understandable that Farley would defend the war. After all his pay depends on it because of his dual role as assistant prosecutor for the county and Director of the county's Narcotics Strike Force.
Without exception, every point that Farley uses to defend the war has its basis in the policy of prohibition, rather than in the drugs themselves. He seems very concerned about the so-called 'social costs' to society, but seems to have no problem with our governments - federal and state - spending over 40 billion dollars annually just to run it's war on some drugs.
He smoothly begins his discussion talking about 'illegal drugs' than quotes a ream of statistics that include alcohol use and abuse. If Farley truly believed the statistics he quotes as justification for criminalizing drugs, he should be the first in line to introduce laws prohibiting the distribution of alcohol and tobacco since they are the most harmful commonly abused legal drugs in America.
His paragraph on the perceived risks of marijuana fails to acknowledge that none of these risks are as detrimental to a person's health as a sentence in a prison cage or the damage of a lifetime criminal record simply for possessing marijuana. Further, he endorses putting cancer, AIDS and other medical patients in prison if they elect, with the advice of their doctor, to use more harmful legal drugs or narcotics.
Finally, his comment about 'one third of those in treatment are there because the criminal justice system put them there' implies that drug users must be coerced into treatment with threats of prison or they will not participate. The experiences of over 100 million former tobacco addicts and tens of millions of former alcoholics show this statement to be without merit.
Please consider writing a letter today to the Asbury Park Press to let them know that the alternative ideas presented by Martin Haines are not as crazy as Terrence Farley suggests with his derogatory commentary.
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ASBURY PARK PRESS (NJ)
Notes: This original article is also on line at the newspaper's website,
which notes "Terrence P. Farley is first assistant Ocean County prosecutor and director of the Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force."
The referenced column of Superior Court Judge Martin Haines is at
Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jan 2004
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2004 Asbury Park Press
Author: Terrence P. Farley
ATTACK AGAINST THE DRUG WAR IGNORES SOCIAL COSTS
In his Jan. 8 column, former Superior Court Judge Martin Haines attacked the so-called "war on drugs." It is hard to figure out whether his philosophy is leftist, libertarian or simply nonsensical. His ignorance of the facts and his lack of logic is so evident one might believe that he was a paid lobbyist for the Drug Policy Alliance, the goal of which is to legalize all drugs.
Haines begins his diatribe quoting statistics for drug arrests and the numbers of people in state and federal jails and prisons (a common ploy of the Drug Policy Alliance), but never cites the number of drug overdose hospitalizations, deaths or murders -- figures which are of more interest to the families affected by drug abuse -- or even the enormous costs to society when these drug users and dealers are out on the street.
He then cites financial figures for the costs of fighting the "war" on drug and alcohol abuse. He neglects, however, to recite that it costs the taxpayers of this country about $143 billion annually in preventable health care costs, absenteeism, premature deaths, increased insurance and health care costs, accidents, crime and lost productivity. Alcohol and drug abusers are late for work three times more often than fellow employees; have absences of eight days or longer 2.5 times more often than other employees; are five times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim and are 3.6 times more likely to cause a workplace accident.
Haines then accuses "our governments" of misleading the public about the dangers of drug abuse so that we can have "harsh criminal laws, tough prosecutions and stiff penalties." He wants judges to have more discretion in sentencing, and to reduce penalties for marijuana, as it is "mostly harmless." He also boldly states that marijuana has beneficial medical uses.
The pro-legalization rhetoric about the government wanting harsher laws, tougher prosecutions and stiffer penalties is not backed up by any statements or reasoning because it's pure nonsense. As to the reason for mandatory minimum sentences, it was brought about by judges who failed to fulfill the duties of the job to which they were appointed or elected. There was a twofold reason for their introduction:
(The public was fed up with criminals not going to jail. Former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, once noted that "mandatory minimum sentencing is a massive no-confidence vote by the American people in the discretionary powers of our judges."
(The very nature of the drug trade requires that prosecutors have a tool with which to deal with drug traffickers. Without drug dealers facing stiff penalties, there would be no incentive for them to cooperate with law enforcement.
Haines' statements regarding the "harmless" drug marijuana fail to take into account any of the relevant medical studies of marijuana that have found, among other things, that marijuana contains much more tar, carbon monoxide and other dangerous chemicals than tobacco; that marijuana smoking affects fertility in both men and women; that it has led to increases in cancers of the head, mouth and neck; that it affects school and work performance more than any other drug; that the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that "smoked marijuana is neither safe nor effective as a medicine for any ailment; and that the National Institutes of Health have stated "patients with HIV or any diseases of the immune system should avoid marijuana." There are many more adverse studies on marijuana.
Haines also promotes the use of needle exchange programs without looking at, or ignoring, the facts. He should look at the 1995 Montreal study, which found that 78 percent of needle exchange program users and 72 percent of non-needle exchange program users shared needles. In the Vancouver study, the rate of HIV infections for intravenous drug users rose from 2 percent prior to the needle exchange program to 27 percent after -- despite the fact that 92 percent of the intravenous drug users used the needle exchange program.
While I agree that we need more prevention, education and treatment efforts, we must remember that about one-third of all people in treatment are there only because the criminal justice system put them there. Drug courts are but one of the new programs available.
I agree with Haines that we need more public discussion on these issues. (I do approximately 100 lectures per year.) I hope, however, that the people who have these discussions are more informed and willing to discuss the real issues than Haines, who merely brought a knife to a gunfight.
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